Starting April 1, Twitter says it will shut down its legacy verified program and remove legacy verified checkmarks, except for users subscribed to Twitter Blue.
Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter hinted at this move last year when he described the blue checkmarks—that are assigned to confirm the identity of notable individuals—as "corrupt and nonsensical".
"In a few months, we will remove all legacy blue checks. The way in which they were given out was corrupt and nonsensical," Musk tweeted in December 2022. Twitter introduced the blue checkmarks in 2009 after a legal squabble with Tony La Russa, the former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
La Russa sued Twitter because he was being impersonated on the platform. It was initially available to public figures such as celebrities but has since expanded to others like journalists and bloggers due to increased misinformation on social media platforms.
However, when Musk took over the company last year, he relaunched Twitter Blue, allowing everyone to get verified for a fee; which comes with a blue checkmark next to their name, fewer ads on their timeline, boosted posts and other features. Earlier this month, the subscription service was expanded into Nigeria and South Africa for ₦5,000 and R144.99 per month, respectively.
At the launch, Twitter offered a 12% discount to Nigerian users and a 13% discount to South African users who opt for annual subscriptions. While those subscribing via iOS and Android-enabled devices will pay the flat rate, the company pegged subscriptions via the web at ₦3,650 and R144.99 monthly.
Also, an annual subscription via the web costs ₦38,500 and R1,519, while Twitter users that subscribe via iOS and Android devices will pay ₦52,900 and R2,099.
"To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue," the company disclosed on Thursday. Although this program is geared towards building Twitter's revenue stream, a surge in misinformation and impersonation might be recorded with its introduction. Especially in Africa where Twitter employees responsible for content moderation were laid off last year.
However, Musk noted that "any individual person's Twitter account affiliated with a verified organization is automatically verified"; this possibly implies that journalists working at media outlets that are subscribed to Twitter Blue will still have their blue badges.
"An affiliated account receives verification (denoted by either a blue, gold, or grey checkmark) as well as an affiliate badge, a small image of their parent company's profile picture, displayed next to their checkmark. Clicking or pressing this badge takes a user directly to the affiliated organization, making it a great driver of followers from your whole network on Twitter," the company disclosed in a statement.
Unlike the personal verification pricing, Twitter Blue verification for organisations costs $1,000/month (plus any applicable tax) and $50/month (plus any applicable tax) for each additional affiliate in the US Prices may vary by region and are subject to change. At the time of this report, no African country was listed on the pricing list.
Editor's Note: This is a developing story, it will be updated with more details.